Monday, 21 December 2015

Confessions of an Armchair Golfer

I used to be asked by friends & colleagues “What is your golf handicap?”  To which my usual, response was one word “Golf”.

My earliest recollections of the game were accompanying my father, as he and a band of other hardy stalwarts transformed a large area of North Taranaki sand dunes into a playable 18 hole links.  So as a youngster I equated the term ‘golf’ with gorse & thistles, wild rabbits and exhausting toil.

In truth this impression has never left me. When I look at what LPGA professionals have to endure on a weekly basis I am amazed that they do so well – choking local haze, travel fatigue, lost luggage, fractious fans & family commitments.

My father was a good amateur golfer and had the build to make it so. His height helped him master a better than average swing and he did reasonably well in tournaments. I by comparison, inherited the worst physical attributes of both my parents.  Short in the arms, middling in stature and built like the rugby forward I later became, any chance of a good golf swing was born to fail, quite literally.

Junior golf tournaments started for me at age ten and fortunately terms like ‘cut’ at that time did not enter the local vocabulary. By age thirteen I knew everything I needed to know about replacing divots, getting trundler wheels out of sand and hacking through lupins in search of my ball.  My adolescent study of poetry also found me agreeing with Wordsworth when he uttered the immortal words “Golf is a day spent in a round of strenuous idleness”.

In short, by the time I was ready for high school I was also ready to pack away my clubs for good.
So what you may well ask is giving me a renewed interest in golf?

Put simply, a chance twiddling of the TV remote a couple of years ago drew me to a young Lydia Ko winning her first pro tournament in Taiwan.  It was one of those rare free-to-air showings on New Zealand television and my interest was piqued.

After watching the Swing Skirts tournament unfold I was hooked; and I have been following the LPGA tour ever since.  In particular, we Kiwis admire Lydia’s rapid rise to the top of women’s golf.

In a country that is dominated by male sporting achievements – principally rugby – having a woman world number one is a great source of pride to many Kiwis. It is her demeanor on and off the course as much as her golfing prowess that impresses us.

We shouldn’t under estimate the impact of this success on the growth of, and interest in, the game in New Zealand.

George Harper of New Zealand Golf is quoted as saying that the ‘Ko Effect’ has had a real impact on the growth of the Junior Women and Secondary Women’s game.

Junior women have seen an increase of nine per cent since 2013 and secondary women has risen 17 per cent.

Given golf's raised sporting profile I am almost tempted to go out and buy a new set of clubs…..almost

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Today's Art Work - Discovery

Print on Canvas
Roger Smith
Copies available here.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Three Poems Set To Music

Here are three of my poems set to auto-generated music using an online generator.

Poem 1
Poem 2
Poem 3

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Homage To Tony - Art Work

Homage To Tony
Roger Smith
Print on canvas

Copies available here
In the 1980's when I was the Exhibitions Office at the Robert McDougall Art gallery in Christchurch, I used to hang the large canvases of the later New Zealand artists, Tony Fomison.

His was a deeply personal vision and this print on canvas is my homage to him.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Today's Art Work - Abstract 1411

Abstract 1411
On Canvas
Roger Smith
Copies available here

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Red Peak Is A Red Herring!

This late inclusion of a nondescript piece of cloth into the new New Zealand flag debate is more about political one-upmanship than national identity.

A flag (Canada's is an excellent example) is about an immediately recognisable design that has a key recognisable element.  This so-called 'red peak' design lacks any immediacy or national identity.

There are really only three design elements that resonate with all New Zealanders:
 - The Kiwi
 - The Koru
 - The Silver Fern

It is the latter, the fern, that is by far the obvious choice and is already widely recognisable as 'New Zealand'.

I'll be voting for a design that includes it.  If for some bizarre reason 'Red Peak' is chosen as the preferred alternative I will then vote for retaining the existing.  

But perhaps that is the outcome that 'change the flag' critics & red peak supporters have been hoping for anyway?

Sunday, 6 September 2015

When Nasi Lemak Goes Wrong - New Art Work

When Nasi Lemak Goes Wrong
on canvas
Roger Smith 2015
Get the print here.
Nasi Lemak is one of my favourite food but I couldn't resist adding the odd surrealist flourish!  This work used a twitterbot to start the process and I worked from there.

For those who have had food poisoning from suspect chili paste this work may have a different interpretation.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Singapore in the 1960's

Interesting set of photos of Singapore in the Sixties.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Happy Birthday Singapore!

A wonderful achievement in such a short space of time.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Trailing the Knights - Singapore's Aerobatic Team

 I used to watched this team practicing as they screamed past the HDB's in the tight formation of jets.  They were impressive then but this cockpit-eye view is even more so.

Practicing for the big SG50 celebration and pity I can't be there in person to witness it - but at least we now have live streaming on the internet.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Singapore Food Delights

Singapore Food Delights
Classic Singapore dishes re-imagined
Roger Smith, 2015
See it here.

Spent this morning re-imagining some of my favorite Singapore foods.  The result can be seen here in this large Art Print - 36 inches X 21 inches

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

A Golfing Epistle - Keep It Simple

There is an old adage "Keep It Simple" and I can't help but think that the life of a professional woman golfer gets more complicated by the minute.  This complexity has to have an impact on their game.

Take the example of our New Zealand golfing prodigy Lydia Ko.  Her great gift was apparent at a young age and she has not disappointed with her rise in the women's game -  even reaching number one in just her second year on the LPGA circuit.

Being number one in anything, particularly sport, is both a blessing and a curse.  The positive side is the increasing queue of prospective sponsors & product endorsements. The negative being the increase demands on time and pressure to maintain the top spot.

When Lydia reached the pinnacle of her sport former World #1 Stacy Lewis sent a warning about the pressure that comes with the ranking.  Lewis should know as she too faced the challenge.  

In a 2013 Golf Channel article she is quoted as saying “I love having that pressure.”  As the writer wisely noted at the time, "Others have made similar brash statements, only to find later that the love doesn’t continue as the pressure grows. Now it’s her turn."

It is no coincidence that much as Lydia and we all reveled in her ascension, her game eventually started to falter.  I suspect even her very supportive parents would have wished that this particular No.1 accolade arrived a little later in her career.  But winning tournaments means an inevitable rise up the Rolex Rankings and successful Lydia Ko has certainly been.

On top of the above are other factors that influence how any professional golfer plays on the day.

Leaving well alone

Take for example coaching, or coach swapping to be more precise.  Some LPGA players have had more coaches than I've had hot dinners!  A slight exaggeration perhaps but you get my drift.

The swing may well be 'the thing' but constant tinkering does not necessarily yield results.  You don't have to look to far to see players who have suffered from over-coaching and have lost confidence in their own natural abilities.

Not that coaches are bad news; they are important to the game.  But sometimes I suspect that coaches need players more than players need coaches.  A good sport coach in any code provides an impartial and critical pair of eyes.

Sports psychologists are another species that I would give a wide berth unless 'needs must'.


While not officially a contact sport, a golfer's body goes through stresses and strains that we mere mortals have never had to endure. Those tall in stature may have an advantage in swinging their clubs but conversely they also place greater pressure on their joints and muscles.

While rugby players often retire as beat-up crocks, golfers can also suffer long term medical problems; while they are playing and in their sporting afterlife. One need look no further than the elegant play of Michelle Wie who has battled on through the 2015 season despite a rash of injuries that have thwarted any serious comeback.

The joy of travel

I choose this sub heading advisedly.  As one who did a lot of long haul travel in his career I know the frustrations of constant travel and hotel accommodation.  Lost luggage and (worse still) severely damaged gear arriving on the conveyor belt are constant threats.

Jet lag and congested airport concourses don't help much either.  On the plus side there is the joy of discovering a new culture; the people, food and customs.  But after visiting the same countries each year this thrill of discovery soon palls.  The way around it I found was to take a camera and record experiences in a blog.

Major focus

Why is people keeping saying that a golfer hasn't really succeeded in the sport if they haven't won a Major?  In my book a player has succeeded if they win any tournaments and are constantly in the top ten rankings.

The preoccupation with 'winning majors' is really a sideshow in a sportsperson's career.  It will happen when it happens, and I suspect that young Lydia Ko is finally coming to that realisation. At least I certainly hope she is.

Media Mayhem

And finally I would suggest that the most successful golfers are ones who disregard what the media says about them.  The media never give up.  They have column centimeters and webpages to fill.   Reading stuff others write about you can add extra pressure that no player needs.

Even as I write this columnists are delivering their player expectations.  For example:

"A victory at Turnberry or in the Evian Championship next month would make Ko the youngest winner of an LPGA major, which would be fitting given her teenage success"

My advice to Lydia. Do your own thing.  You are at your best when you enjoy what you do without the expectations of others.  In fact  this advice could apply to anyone on the LPGA circuit and good luck to them all.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Today's Art - Golden City

Golden City
Roger Smith 2015
On Canvas
Copies available here.

Golden City - Framed
Copies available here.

Somnolent Singaporeans & High Tech Dogs

The narcissist fantasy that is the 'selfie' took another blow recently; quite literally.  The blow in question followed a fall off a two metre cliff and death by drowning for a non-swimming Singaporean.

According to Channel News Asia the ill-fated Mohamed Aslam tried to take a selfie on a Balinese cliff and lost his footing after being hit by a wave.

Much as I love my photography, the site of groups and individuals forcing their way into the limelight with upraised smartphones leaves me cold.  And I suspect their joy is transitory as there is not real visual dissection of the scene that surrounds them - just group, point, click and move away.

So prevalent have selfies become that the inventor of the 'selfie stick' must have made a fortune. These invasive rods are a danger to objects and people around them; most museums in the world have quickly moved to ban them.

Photo: Straights Times
All this selfie taking and smart phone fiddling is also bad for the health.  A global research company has found that less than 20% of Singaporeans get the required 8 hours of sleep required to stay healthy.

A thousand people between the ages of twenty and fifty nine were surveyed and half of the student cohort slept badly because their brains were still buzzing from using their smartphones or tablets before going to sleep. What ever happened to the glass of warm milk and a good book before bed?

Singapore is described "as the third most sleep-deprived city in the world" with two other Asian cities, Seoul and Tokyo taking the dubious honour of ranking first and second.  The soporific Aussies in Melbourne fared much better, being identified as the best rested.

Not that technology alone makes for snoring MRT passengers.  Work stress, the lack of a good bolster and the oppressive heat of Singapore all contributed to less than happy slumbers.

Not only are we hell-bent on damaging our health through over stimulation of our brains, we are now inflicting pervasive technology on our pets.  But in the case of the Dogtelligent Connected Collar your pooch now can experience the joys of "virtual fence and leash technology that gently tugs, activity trackers, GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth, ambient temperature sensors, and an ultrasonic micro-speaker to correct barking".

Let's just hope there are no severe electrical storms around when you decide to take your dog 'walkies'.  If there are we are a likely to get a new definition for the term 'hot dog'.

Actually when I think about it, these same collars may have great potential when applied to human commuters on the MRT.  Sleepwalking to work could be achieved with ease.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Trobriands No. 2 - Today's Art Work

Trobriands #2
Roger Smith - 2015
Prints available here.
In the middle of writing my book on living in Papua New Guinea in the late 1970's - early '80's, I felt motivated to produce this work based on traditional Trobriand Island design elements.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Today's Art Work - Turn To Clear Vision

Turn To Clear Vision
Roger Smith - April 2015
On Canvas
Prints of the above are available here.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Retracing Houses I Owned

With the advent of Google's Street View it is relatively easy to see how places we once inhabited have survived or developed into something completely different.

The first house I acutually owned was in Waana Street on the Ohau Channel between Lakes Rotorua and Rotoiti.

The trees that I planted in the mid-1970's can be seen at left, just past the white house on the corner.  They have bushed out somewhat!.  This area has many fishing baches as the water are well stocked in trout.

I kept a dinghy and outboard motor pulled up on the shore at the far end of Waana Street and used to go trolling when the mood took.

In the 1980's my wife and I bought and lived at 50A Scarborough Road on Scarborough Hill in Sumner, Christchurch.

A beautiful spot overlooking Sumner Bay, with the garage on the road and steps down to the house (which is hidden at left by the trees).

Monday, 23 March 2015

Rest In Peace Lee Kuan Yew

"Whoever governs Singapore must have that iron in him. Or give it up. I've spent a whole lifetime building this and as long as I'm in charge, nobody is going to knock it down." - Lee Kuan Yew (1980).

I feel privileged to have lived in an era where a great man took a small nation and made it really special.  I am of course referring to Singapore and the vision and drive of its modern day founder, Lee Kuan Yew, who passed away today, aged 91.

He was a man I admired greatly and one of the key reasons I decided to make Singapore my home for a period of 5 years. Yes he had his detractors, but even they would have failed to emulate his drive, vision and passion for the country.

Singapore has lost a great man today but fittingly as it celebrates its 50th Anniversary, they have gained a first world nation; all thanks to LKY and the citizens who worked under his stewardship.

My sincere condolences to the Lee family at this time.

Lee Suan Yew, Mr Lee Kuan Yew's youngest brother

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Ajunied Is Love!

Get the T-Shirt here.
Singapore's MRT is world-class and Aljunied was a stop on the East West line that I often used.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Singapore's Biggest Dig

Singapore's biggest archaeological excavation is taking place at Empress Place, in a 1000 sq m area. The dig has so far unearthed 400 kg of artifacts and deposits and will end on April 9.

This is great to see; keeping Singapore's material heritage safe for further generations and study.  The whole Empress Place site is rich in history.  Not just during the British tenure but well before, when Iskandar Shah ruled, some 600 years ago.

The National Heritage Board records that'the The site is more than 1,000 sq m in size — about the equivalent of 10 four-room HDB flats.'

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Golf (After Nicholson) - Art Print

I always admired the minimalist abstractions of Ben Nicholson.  This, coupled with the fact that today is the first day of LPGA golf in 2015, resulted in a golf inspired composition.

Golf (After Nicholson)
Print on Canvas
Roger Smith 2015
Copies of this print are available here.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Today's Art - Botany Downs Landscape

Botany Downs Landscape
Print on Canvas
Roger Smith 2015

Copies available here.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

WoW! Dinosaurs, Rockets & Creativity

I paid one of my infrequent visits to our Auckland War Memorial Museum today.  As its title suggest, it is a mix of 'memorial to the fallen' and a historical showcase of a wide range of diverse collections.

From Dinosaurs and a jade buffalo from the Summer Palace, the to a German V1 Rocket, this museum has it all.  best of all it is free to Auckland ratepayers.

Auckland War Memorial Museum
The temporary exhibition when I visited this summer was the New Zealand event, the World of Wearable Art (WoW), which will later embark on a world tour to other museum.

If you get a chance to see WoW you should as it is inspirational and highly creative in the costumes on display.
The World Of Wearable Art Exhibition - Auckland War Memorial Museum

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Blame It One The Bugis

Get the shirt here!
Singapore's Bugis Street stills has a 'certain reputation'.

Art Work on Pinterest

My latest art prints are added to Pinterest.  You can see and follow them on this board.

Follow Roger Smith's board My Online Art Gallery - Original Work on Pinterest.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Singapore Then And Now - Photographs That Celebrate 50 Years

The Straits Times has been publishing some interesting 'then and now' slider images recently.  These show common Singapore landmarks as they were, and as they are now.

They include the following:

The MPH Building
See the full size slider photos here.
The Cathay Cinema
See the full size slider photos here.
Clarke Quay
See the full size slider photos here.
Capitol Theatre in 1983 and today.
See full size slider here.
I am pleased that a number of these heritage buildings are still standing, as many of them were lost forever in the drive for modernisation and thanks to the stress of a tropical climate on such structures.

The newspaper will be adding new slider images each Thursday in 2015 as part of the celebrations this year of Singapore's 50th Anniversary.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Today's Art - Yellow Lanterns

Yellow Lantern
Roger Smith 2014
Prints available here.
Art montage based on man-made objects, sign and marks.  Large canvas 120.5 cm X 101.4 cm

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

15 Telling Numbers For 2015

Source: Straits Times
Should be a great 2015 with Singapore celebrating its 50th year as an independent country

Monday, 5 January 2015

Pohutukawa Flowers

Pohutukawa Flowers
January 2015
Roger Smith
The New Zealand Pohutukawa trees are flowering at this time of year and when they fall they carpet the pavement.